AND THE CONGREGATION OF THE INDEX
Here is an extract from the text of the condemnation
of Galileo in 1615; photographed in the Archives of the Vatican by an
ardent Catholic, Comte Henri de l'Epinois:
"Thou hast been denounced in 1615 to the Sacred
"Because thou hast sustained as true a false
doctrine spread by many, namely that 'the Sun is motionless in the
centre of the world and that the earth has a daily movement'; because
thou teachest this doctrine to thy disciples; because thou hast kept up
a correspondence on this subject with the mathematicians of Germany;
because thou hast published letters about the solar spots, in which
thou didst present this doctrine as true; because to the objections
made to thee thou didst answer by explaining the Holy Scriptures
according to thine own idea...
"The tribunal has wished to prevent the
inconveniences and dangers derived therefrom, which are becoming
aggravated to the detriment of the faith.
"By the order of the Pope and the Cardinals, the
theologians charged with this mission have thus qualified thy two
propositions. First, 'The sun is the centre of the world and does not
move.' An absurd proposition, false in philosophy, and heretical as to
its expression, for it is contrary to the Holy Scriptures. Second, 'The
earth is not the centre of the world, it is not immovable, but has a
"Proposition equally absurd and false in philosophy,
and, considered from a theological point of view, erroneous as to the
faith. ... We declare that thou hast rendered thyself strongly
suspected of heresy; Because thou hast believed and upheld a doctrine
false and contrary to the holy and divine Scriptures, namely: that the
sun is the centre of the universe and does not move from east to west;
that the earth moves and is not the centre of the world.
"Because thou hast thought that thou couldst
support, as probable, an opinion which has been declared contrary to
the Holy Scriptures.
"In consequence, we declare that thou hast incurred
all the censures and pains decreed by the sacred canons and other
general and particular constitutions against those who disobey the
statutes and other decrees promulgated.
"From such censures it pleases us to absolve thee
provided that, firstly, thou shalt, from a sincere heart and with a
true faith, abjure before us, curse and detest, according to the
formula which we will present to thee, the said errors and heresies,
and all other error or heresy contrary to the Catholic, Apostolic and
Roman Church. And, that thy grave and pernicious error and thy
disobedience may not remain unpunished, so that in the future thou
shouldst be more reserved and that thou shouldst serve as an example to
others that they may avoid these sins: We declare, by public edict,
that the book of "Diologues," by Galileo, is prohibited.
"We condemn thee to the ordinary prison of this Holy
Office for a length of time to be set at our pleasure. As a salutary
penance, we order thee to recite, during three years, once a week, the
seven penitential psalms.
"We reserve to ourselves the power to moderate, to
change, or to remit all or part of the pains and penances aforesaid."
A theologian dictated the following lines, five
years ago, to Mr Henry Lasserre, which the author of "Notre Dame de
Lourdes," and the "Traduction nouvelle des Evangiles" (this last work
also placed on the Index) repeats in his "Memoires a La
"This decree which anathematized the admirable
discovery of the great astronomer and which punished him by
imprisonment, was a double and complete error.
"It was an incidental and secondary error in
astronomy, but it was, above all, a principal error in doctrine.
Remarkably enough the Sacred Congregation has condemned itself by every
word of the decree.
"By condemning as absurd, that is to say contrary to
reason, that which is reasonable, it has convicted itself of being
without reason and opposed to reason.
"By condemning as false, that is, contrary to the
truth, that which is true, it has convicted itself of being without
truth and opposed to truth.
"By condemning as heresy, that is, contrary to
orthodoxy, that which is a divine law of the visible universe, it has
convicted itself of being unorthodox and opposed to orthodoxy.
"By condemning as contrary to the Scriptures a
marvelous system of the Creator, the Sacred Congregation has convicted
itself of being without the science of the Scriptures, and opposed to
their true interpretation.
"Every Roman, in private, in the intimacy of
conversation, was not slow in confessing and in deploring the fault
committed by these eminent judges.
"Nevertheless, what is still more deplorable, is
that in spite of the complaints and demands, in spite of the proofs and
evidence, in spite of the orders of Benoit XIV, and the sentence of
eradication pronounced by this Pope on May 10th, 1754, notwithstanding
a second decree of the same nature, rendered by Pius VII on Sept. 25th,
1822, the repugnance of the Roman Congregation to confess itself in
error or to submit to such a decree from the Pope, was so great, that
during more than two centuries and in the face of a recognized truth,
this tribunal maintained its decree on the Catalogue of the index librorum prohibitorum."
The works containing the discoveries of Galileo and
of Copernicus, condemned on August 23rd, 1634, as absurd, false,
heretical and contrary to the holy and divine Scriptures, have only
been removed from the Index in the edition of 1835. They remained
forbidden for 201 years.
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